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Tuskegee’s architecture program earns eight-year NAAB reaccreditation

April 13, 2018

Contact:  Michael Tullier, APR, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
  

TSACS Dean and Architecture faculty stand in front of building
TSACS Dean and Architecture faculty stand in front of academic building

Tuskegee University’s undergraduate architecture program has been reaccredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) for a historic eight-year term.

NAAB accreditation is the primary means by which professional degree programs in architecture assure quality to students and the public. In addition to the five core elements, the NAAB system also relies on evaluating student work to demonstrate that the program is preparing all graduates with the knowledge and skills needed for the next steps in their careers, including experience and examination.

Tuskegee’s recent accreditation is the first time in its architecture program’s history that it has received NAAB’s eight-year term of accreditation. The term of accreditation depends on the extent of a program’s conformance with NAAB’s established educational standards. The maximum-term accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that is conferred upon a program and shows Tuskegee’s substantial conformance to the NAAB’s 26 student performance criteria. The program’s previous NAAB accreditation, issued in 2011, was for a six-year term. 

Although periodic review is a required component for maintaining accreditation, the NAAB accreditation process culminates with an on-campus site visit by a peer review team at the end of its accreditation term. The onsite visit from Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, 2017, included a team of educators, practicing architects, and a student member of the American Institute of Architects — all who reviewed the department’s self-study and evaluated its architecture program.  

Following its evaluation, the review team presented school and university leadership with an exit report based in part on student performance and the school’s overall learning environment. In particular, the team noted five major strengths: the dean’s efforts in recruiting, culture and architecture; its community and social responsibility; its Architecture Advisory Board; its scholarship and alumni support from the Tuskegee Architecture and Construction Alumni Association (TACAA); and the recent mergers of design studio courses, and ARCH 503, “Thesis Seminar” and ARCH 523, “Professional Practice,” which appear to have strengthened under the leadership of the school’s new dean and architecture program department head.

“We are particularly excited that the team recognized our efforts to strengthen the curriculum by revitalizing multiculturalism and global understanding,” said Dr. Carla Jackson Bell, dean of the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science and professor of architecture. “The team highly recognized many of our current priorities, including recruiting and retaining faculty and students, building relationships with corporate sponsors, and establishing new cross-disciplinary partnerships with colleagues in other academic specialties.”

One example of curriculum innovations are new tracks in Sustainability, Historic Presentation, and African-American Studies — each with a concentration on the built environment — to be introduced this fall.

“The tracks will also enhance the development of several seminar-format learning environments that engage cultural perspectives and critical thinking skills, and promote practical hands-on learning opportunities in the Department of Architecture” said Kwesi Daniels, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, an assistant professor and architecture department head.

Currently, NAAB accredits architecture programs at 127 U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. Tuskegee University’s program is only one of seven accredited HBCU-based programs in the nation. Like other professional licensure programs, such as the practice of law and medicine, architecture is regulated at the state level. NAAB accreditation demonstrates that academic programs meet the education requirement for registration in all 54 U.S. jurisdictions; it is required in 38.

“Our architecture program — one of the university’s oldest academic programs — is preserving Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of ‘learning to do by doing,’” said Dr. Tejinder Sara, Tuskegee’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We appreciate NAAB’s affirmation of the quality and rigor of Tuskegee University’s architecture degree program by extending to it the organization’s maximum-term accreditation status.”

As a condition of accreditation, the school must publicly disseminate its Architecture Program Report and its Visiting Team Report — both of which are available using the preceding links. For more information about NAAB accreditation, visit www.naab.org/accreditation.

Architecture education at Tuskegee University dates back to 1893. The program is part of the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science, named after Taylor, who was the first accredited African-American architect and the first to receive an architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Taylor served as Tuskegee’s first director of Mechanical Industries beginning in 1901. The university formally established the baccalaureate degree in architecture in 1934, and today is recognized as graduating the most practicing African-American architects in the Southeast.

© 2018, Tuskegee University